After last year’s wildfires saw the summer festival canceled, the Southside is bouncing back with a new take on the occasion this July.
The new Grassy Plains Summer Festival is calling itself the Battle of the Primitive Hand Skills, and will recreate the settings of nineteenth century settlers and their technology.
“The prior festival was focused on music,” co-organizer Bob Dosen told Lakes District News. “This festival is more focused on primitive hand skills like knife making, forging, period reenactments, black powder shooting [and] hammer making. And hopefully we’ll have some music there.”
Dosen, who is the director of the Grassy Plains Hall, is co-organizing the July 12-14 festival with his wife Cindy.
The new festival marks a sharp departure from the themes of previous Grassy Plains summer festivals.
“We didn’t do a music festival last year due to the wildfires. This is just something unique and new…The families and the settlers that are here and have been here used the primitive skills a long time ago to fix their machines. It’s a little closer to home…They can learn something maybe, like how our forefathers did things,” Dosen explained.
The festival will feature demonstrations by blacksmiths forging metal tools and knives, and craftspeople in period clothing making leather, wooden implements and stone carvings.
Burns Lake resident and knifemaker Don Stevenson will be on hand to do a demonstration, and a few horseshoe makers and other blacksmiths from northern British Columbia have been invited.
“We’re trying to do a Forged in Fire aspect, along those lines of the TV show,” said Cindy.
Though they would’ve been a very rare sight in the nineteenth century, some knights in armour might show up for a demonstration duel.
There will also be a Black Powder Rendezvous of people dressed as fur traders and explorers who will fire their old muskets using only gunpowder.
“At the reenactments they just put the powder in and not the shot. There’s lots of smoke when they fire off,” Dosen said.
A Black Powder Rendezvous event was held last summer near Cache Creek.
The festival is still three months away, but Dosen said people from as far away as Prince George and Smithers have already expressed interest.
He hopes 400-500 people attend the Battle of the Primitive Hand Skills and so far $12,000 has been budgeted.